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Not enough money to be married!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Over the weekend, I was told of a person in his early 30s who is married and has two children. He is regularly borrowing money from his family and friends. In fact, he would borrow from friends to pay the installments on the mortgage of his 5 room HDB flat as well. Amount? S$800 a month.

I am not married and I wouldn't know but with an annual gross income of some S$28K, is it tough to support a family of four in Singapore? It seems that this is the case for this man.

The wife stays home and takes care of the two children who are still attending primary school. It is reasonable to assume that the two children would probably be financially dependent on him for another ten years at least.

I fear that I might sound heartless for saying this but this person really should not have gotten married in the first instance. Making the mistake of getting married, he should have applied for a smaller 3 room HDB flat instead of a 5 room HDB flat which probably cost twice as much. Then, making the mistake of applying for a bigger flat, he should have deferred the decision to have children.

All the romantic notions of a perfect marriage, a spacious home and lovely kids have to be built on rock solid finances, especially in a city like Singapore which has very high cost of living. This is the hard truth.

We have heard of marriage counselling for couples who have serious differences. However, the Catholic Church, I know, provides pre-marriage counselling for would be couples as well. This is a very good idea, I feel. However, that is probably only on an emotional and religious level.

Building on this, I believe that there should be financial advisory services for people thinking of tying the knot so that people do not find themselves in a hole after getting married. Such services should be secular in nature and be made available to all people thinking of getting married. Do such services exist?

If we do a search online for "not enough money for wedding", we will find some websites telling us not to worry and how we could go ahead with it. Where is the common sense in this?

If there is not enough money for a wedding, the two people do not have enough money to be married.

Related posts:
1. Wage slaves should be fearful.
2. Why is Warren Buffet the world's greatest money maker?


yeh said...

Initially I was thinking to quit my job and just let my hubby support me. But after so much thinking, I give up this idea. I think it is very hard To support a family if only one family member working. Anyway, my job also quite 'senang' type and iron rice bowl, even not very happy with my work, I will still work.

AK71 said...

Hi yeh,

I think you did the prudent thing. Your husband is a lucky man. :)

lzyData said...

The actual marriage fee plus token of appreciation for solemnizer is less than $100 if I am not wrong, so someone who literally doesn't have enough money to get married is in real trouble... :P

But yes, in your example, the person has too much house and is overextended. There is no reason a couple with kids cannot stay in a 3-room flat, at least while they are still young. If he cannot even pay the mortgage, how will he pay for other things? Sigh.

yeh said...

No la, I got no kids, stay at home also nothing to do. Just go to work also not bad:)

AK71 said...

Hi IzyData,

Indeed, that would be the minimum for a statutory marriage! However, a wedding to most people would be more than just that, wouldn't it? ;)

I wonder how many people are there in Singapore who are like this person I have described.

AK71 said...

Hi yeh,

No children? Even more prudent. ;p

I am sure you and your husband planned well. :)

AhJohn said...

Marry is not the cause of problem, but how he plan financially.
Two persons live together will save some money too, eg. Only need one bed, etc.

AhJohn said...

Also, in Singapore, it's good idea to buy hdb flat, rental can cover mortgage. Of coz, if have children too early, that will be another story. But if have children too late, maybe another problem too, have to retire later.

AK71 said...

Hi Ah John,

I am no expert on the topic of marriage but I try to approach any topic with some common sense. Is that a difficult thing to do? I sometimes wonder.

Are two people financially ready for marriage? Is a 5 room flat necessary? Are they financially ready to have children?

At the root of it all, perhaps people thinking of it should ask if marriage is a need or a want for them.

SnOOpy168 said...

this chap will have his kids leeching on him for a very long time. You know, those kids' ipad mini (today) & million $ hdb flats(25 year's time) are going to be a grave concern.

btw, wasn't there an article / story about getting married "cheaply" at void decks ? was proven to be quiet a sum of $$$$ too.

AK71 said...

Hi SnOOpy168,

Everything needs money. Kids are expensive in Singapore. When I did my calculations 15 years ago, each child would require $250k till the day he/she graduated from NUS/NTU (non-Medicine/Dentistry course)! I wonder how much would it be now...

la papillion said...

Hi ak,

28k per annum? I think it's stretching things a bit. I think a more comfortable level for him would be nearer 60k/yr or 5k/mth. If he's prudent, he can still get some savings for future expenses/retirement.

I wouldn't have a kid with this income level. It's just too much to put on faith that everything will turn out well and good.

AK71 said...

Hi LP,

Oh, spreading it too thin, you think? Like what Bilbo Baggins said in "Lord of the Rings"?

"Too little butter spread over too much bread."

He could consider selling his 5 room flat and moving into a 3 room flat. That should help reduce his monthly mortgage repayments quite a bit.

He can't sell away his children. Well, not in this time and age.

Unknown said...

Hi AK,

After some hesitation, I've modestly decided to input my 2 cents worth.

Unfortunately, current living standards in Sillypore surmounts up to SGD$1M per child, from dependent to independent. In additional, inflationary issue is jacking/blowing/winding all prices up and exports aren't affordable due to strong SGD currency (FOREX).

I sincerely hope that this will not tarnish domestic reputation as I'm merely stating factual reports with justifiable evidence.

Am I spoiling market? Sincerest apologies to burst any F.T(s) & P.R(s) bubbles.

Sighing off,

Poh Soon said...

This guy should self help by doing the following:

1. Considering renting out 1 or 2 room to help cover the mortgage loan
2. His wife can be a nanny earning extra $$ to help cover some cost of living, while taking care of the kids

AK71 said...

Hi Ken,

Wow! Each child will need $1m from birth to graduation? That is 4x more than my estimates 15 years ago. Are you sure? That is a heavy burden.

AK71 said...

Hi Poh Soon,

Good ideas. Rental rates for rooms are still high enough to make a difference now. :)

For a more permanent solution, applying for a BTO 3 room flat and selling his 5 room flat when the new flat receives its TOP should be considered, I believe.

SnOOpy168 said...

AK. I would favor renting out the room. it's legal within HDB rules & helps to foot the bills. Since we now know that it will be $m hdb that the kids will be facing when it's their turn, this 5 room flat could just be a wise idea after all.

AK71 said...

Hi SnOOpy168,

Renting out a room is a good short term measure, I feel, as the rental market is still bouyant although softening. However, I feel that a more permanent solution is required.

Like I always say, we have to run our lives like we would run a company. Keep the costs down and try to increase revenue. If reliable revenue streams are difficult, then, costs will have to be mercilessly cut so that we can weather the bad times.

I really don't think that a 5 room flat is a good idea if this person has difficulty paying the mortgage every month. He needs to build an emergency fund as well. What if he were to be retrenched one day?

He dug a very deep hole for himself and some serious long term measures must be taken. Stop gap measures can help in the meantime.

Unknown said...

Ask the kids to go for scholarship if possible when older?

That is why I am sticking to only 1 kid. Very expensive childcare expense too and cannot go work when child very easy fall sick.

Unknown said...

That is why best is stick to having only 1 child. Expensive childcare fee even after subsidize. Wife still might need to stay home to look after the kids if they keep falling sick easily, when no other help is available. For me, I am not comfortable leaving my kid with maid alone at home.

I think the family could stay in 4 room hdb - 2 room for kids (if different gender), 1 room for the parents.

AK71 said...

Hi Chu,

Thanks for sharing your experience. Much appreciated. :)

Having only 1 child instead of 2 will definitely lighten the financial burden.

How much do your estimate the cost of bringing up a child to be, from birth to graduation from a local university without the help of scholarships?

Unknown said...

It is hard to gauge the expenses needed. Sometimes really depends much on the child's ability to learn and what parents want to give their child (branded goods). Right now I have not send my kid to tuition. I am teaching my kid personally, as I am a little scare that not enough teaching in preschool.

I have seen parents sending young child to plenty of tuition, some even have different tutor teaching same subject.

Even the fees for going local university varies. Depend on what course to do, ability to study part time or full time.

AK71 said...

Hi Chu,

You are absolutely right, of course. There should be a range to expect, however.

When I shared my estimate of $250k per child, I thought it could be outdated as it was done some 15 years ago. However, when Ken commented that it would cost about $1m per child, it is just too mind boggling!

Unknown said...

Just to share these 2 links:

Maybe after reading, can have a rough estimation.

AK71 said...

Hi Chu,

Thanks for the links! Useful resources for all interested readers. :)

I have created the hyperlinks for easy clicking by readers:

The Asian Parent.

Health Xchange.

AK71 said...

The Asian Parent:
"... according to our calculations, it will cost at least SGD $340,000 to raise one child in Singapore from infancy to 21 years of age."

Health Xchange:
Bringing a child up to tertiary education level can cost new parents between $190k and $700k

Wow! Some serious money here.

Anonymous said...


all pre marriage counselling, be it the catholic or non catholic one, has a section that is on Finance, and basic of it.

Basically pre marriage counselling encompass all the various aspect of marriage. It is up to individual to go into the depths of each and every aspect, esp. those areas that they are wak in, to reflect and take action on it, rather than be reactive, or do nothing.

AK71 said...

Hi SC,

That is good to know. Thanks for pointing this out. :)

Perhaps, there should be a greater emphasis on the financial aspects of married life.

I know that some people might feel that it is intrusive or maybe even feel offended by this but could pre-marriage counselling be made compulsory for all? I wonder.

Unknown said...

Hi Ak,

I'm sure the standard of living here will not take any correction but mark-up all costs instead :(
I felt like a 'Lemon' being squeezed manipulatively and upon completion, discharged seems like a norm. and applauded by many.

Pressurized Youth,

AK71 said...

Hi Ken,

Hey, if you are a youth, you have one asset I don't have. ;)

There are many people who are younger and richer than I am. Adam Khoo is younger than me, for example. There are many others. So, am I a failure? To some, I may be...

The important thing is to know what we want out of life, have a plan and to work towards our goals.

If you want something bad enough, you will work hard at it and unless you are severely disadvantaged in some way, chances are, you will succeed. :)

Unknown said...

Hi AK,

You kid me not, judgmental fools deemed you a failure? That is ridiculous as they're not looking into the mirror for a net worth of SGD 7 digits portfolio, readily War-chest in action to suppress them.

I'm at a disadvantageous position as being relatively young (half your age), I am way off many economic booms :(


AK71 said...

Hi Ken,

Well, they are not fools exactly. Although their description is derogatory, I do understand where they are coming from. :)

I just feel that everyone has his or her own way. As long as we do better over time and achieve higher targets in a legal and ethical manner, we are ok.

You might be interested in this:
To be a happy peasant."

I don't feel that you are in a disadvantaged position because you are younger than me. Hey, then, I should feel that way about myself compared to my father's generation! See? It doesn't end. ;)

I feel that you might benefit from Adam Khoo's motivational book. See it at the end of this blog post:
Why is Warren Buffet the world's greatest money maker?

Stiff upper lip and soldier on. :)

AK71 said...

I read a blogger's response to this blog post of mine quite by chance.

See it at:
SG Web Reviews.

The final paragraph in his blog post was "There is nothing inherently wrong for wanting to get married despite being poor. But your financial altitude and perception will dictate your destiny. So don't be stubborn and stupid any more. Don't follow the wrong person. Start following my blog and spread the words around."

I felt inclined to respond but I saw in the comments section that Ray has responded and took the words from my mouth. Saved me some work. Thanks, Ray. ;)

SnOOpy168 said...

Read & agrees that Ray's reply (as always) sounded mature & sensible.

AK71 said...

Hi SnOOpy168,

Ray has not commented in ASSI for a while. So, seeing his comment even though it was in another blog gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling. :)

Since Greatsage (yes, that's the nickname of the blogmaster of SG Web Reviews) seems quite earnest in his rallying call, I thought I'd do him a favour and spread his sagacious message. ;)

SnOOpy168 said...

Unlike off loading a share counter, sed car or even a property to get rid of liabilities, kids are tagged on for the next few decades.

Someone mentioned scholarship. yes, if they can get , there is still the living expense. Plus they usually goes to top grade students only. The best of the best.

An elderly relative , who had 8 kids, always blasted my rather succssful uncles & aunts for having so few kids. Often asking why no more grandchildren for her......

Anyway, personally, kids are an expense with no guaranteed returns. The folks had better have their retirement funds intact when the times comes.

AK71 said...

Hi SnOOpy168,

Yes, having children is a big decision which must be carefully considered.

A big consideration in our modern day society has to be our financial ability as we want to give the best to our children, if we decide to have them.

I won't look at having children as an investment in any form. That would be the wrong reason to have them. :)

SnOOpy168 said...

I should qualify the statement "returns". Here, it means that the kids will fully support the retired parents - pocket money, taking care of daily needs and then those medical bills. I am already paying generous amount for my mom's medisave insurance & all the other fixed expenses. So far, she have not made any claims and I am grateful for that.

Sometimes, she sometimes snaps at me threatening to will the HDB flat to the church. Perhaps she is still thinking of the 100X returns that God will give her back in heaven or the next life. Leaving nothing for me & my brother, thats fine, as we are financially independent.

But I have a request for her : please don't leave any 手尾 for us. i.e. debts & medical bills to settle. I am sure that my (dad) will not want that too.

AK71 said...

Hi SnOOpy168,

When I brought my mom to NTUC Income to upgrade her Incomeshield plan recently, I was so grateful that they approved it although with a qualification that her pre-existing knee condition will not be covered.

My mom was unwilling to upgrade her plan as it would cost her more than $2k a year in premiums, including the assist rider. I told her I would pay for this but that was not the point, she said. Hahaha.. my mom was feeling the pinch for me and I had to explain to her why it is not expensive.

Anyway, just as our parents love us, I am sure we love our parents. Unfortunately, if we have not enough money to make sure we are able to make life, in sickness and in health, comfortable for our loved ones, all would be miserable.

To anyone who still has doubts, I have to say that if we are unable to make enough money to support a family comfortably, we should not be thinking of starting one.

AK71 said...

"When we tied the knot, we told each other that we were both poor. Our life will be very hard, so we must stick together and overcome everything as a couple," said Mr Lin, who is in his 30s.

The wife has six children from two failed relationships and they went on to have four children together - almost one per year! Mr and Mrs Lin live with eight of the children, aged one to 21, in a crowded two-room rental flat!


This couple is irresponsible! Unless they are idiots, they are simply irresponsible!

Recognising that they were both poor, they should not have gotten married and having made that mistake, they should not have had 4 more children!

I pity the kids. I do not pity the parents. They deserve the hardship but the kids don't.

Not a new topic for me but this makes me mad.

apex property investment said...

Seriously, a lot of time, the children do not want things, its the parents who wants to give them things. A lot of love, a lot of time spent with them is probably good enough for them, but along came our own desires and dreams, we forgot about the children, we neglect them, we force them to become someone / something else for the purpose making them better. We spend money on tuition, on enrichment courses... seriously, what is the value of those lessons?

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